Press Room




SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: "Film documents tensions, hopes between Jordanian, S.F. teens"


Last Images of War

"A universal commentary, punctuated with searing and indelible images, on the human costs and tragic nature of war as a means of solving international disputes." SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

"A compelling and moving portrait. This film introduces remarkable, heroic people whose losses underscore the primitive waste and idiocy of war while pointing out the psychological and spiritual needs such conflicts continue to serve." VARIETY (Hollywood)

"LAST IMAGES OF WAR" is an intensely moving celebration of the bravery and idealism of the journalists and the rebels, but it is also an important antidote to the hype and prime-time glory of the Persian Gulf war. The film is beautiful and brutal, a glorification of "pure" as opposed to corporate journalism, and a vivid snapshot of war at its most atrocious. This brilliant film, on PBS, runs against the current grain of prime-time television and succeeds in being both riveting and edifying." TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

"Four Stars! Valiant and haunting! An artful and emotionally inspiring tribute. This is a story which needed to be told, and however painful, brings honor and meaning to its subjects." USA TODAY

"At last a powerful and haunting film which measures up to the claims made for this anthology of international documentaries." SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (London)

"A moving account of the motivations of people whose commitment to truth was greater than their desire to stay alive. The dignity and grief of the people they left behind is as upsetting as the captured horror of war. This is a deeply unsettling film." TIME OUT (London)


Our House In Havana

"A vivacious and youthful 68 year-old Cuban exile, returns to her homeland from the US for the first time in nearly 40 years in "Our House in Havana". Morini is wonderfully direct, her face a spectrum of strong emotion throughout the film. But what makes "Our House in Havana" unforgettable is that this often-blinkered woman is merely stuck in the past, not permanently imprisoned by it. She is permeable to experience: to the easy warmth and dignity of the people she encounters, and especially to the intensity of Cuban culture. She experiences a deeply shared sense of Cuban-ness that is beyond politics, "Our House in Havana" is a subtle, moving and surprisingly artful account of Silvia Morini's changing perceptions. This is a satisfying and thought-provoking film, and further evidence that the quality nonfiction fare to be found on PBS and a few cable outlets, is perhaps the best and most engrossing television there is today." THE BOSTON GLOBE, By John Koch

" Ralph Waldo Emerson said one man's biography is that of a culture's, and this film is substantial proof. Substitute one woman's life for that of a man's and make the culture Cuban, and Emerson's words jump to life. This insightful documentary about one woman who returns to Cuba after years of exile is mesmerizing. "Our House in Havana" turns out to be a savvy inside view of the conditions of modern Cuba as well as a history lesson and an evenly told story about a subject that is a political hotbed." THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, By Marilyn Moss

"Our House in Havana, is an impressive achievement. Within the limited space of one hour, and with his attention tightly focused on one 68-year-oldwoman and the disconnect between her nostalgia and the reality she encounters, Producer/Director Stephen Olsson manages to produce a remarkably complete sketch of life in Cuba today. "Our House" manages to touch on one of the central features of modern Cuban society, the generation gap. But the real subject of the film is Morini's personal transformation. By the time she returns to the United States, her view of U.S.-Cuban relations has radically changed. Formerly a staunch supporter of the U.S. trade embargo, she begins to lobby the White House and key senators such as Jesse Helms to end the embargo altogether--not because of any sudden love for Castro or his revolution but because she believes more contact and exchange will only be good for both societies. Given the current moves in Congress to weaken the embargo, "Our House in Havana" is a welcome, if idiosyncratic, contribution to the debate." THE WASHINGTON POST, By Eugene Robinson

"Our House in Havana is the stuff of great theater. Aside from the multiplepoints of view presented in this remarkable little movie, one can't help but be impressed by the sights and sounds of Cuba throughout the film, the music, the dancing and the lively people. "Our House in Havana" is compelling. Morini is the heart and soul of the film. She is exceptional; even amid her nostalgic wanderings, her mind remains open to the beauties and humanity that remain in Cuba. "Our House in Havana" is an unforgettable journey and unlike much of the mindless reality TV that's on the networks today, "Our House in Havana" really does deserve the distinction of "appointment television"." THE AUSTIN CHRONICLE, By Jeanne Jakle


School Colors

"School Colors examines the seeds of America's future, proposing no solutions, but asking important and extremely provocative questions." THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

"School Colors is a reminder that there is no substitute for patient investigation and depth. You come away from it feeling steeped in the locker-lined, graffiti-splashed, hormonally charged world of high school - and bruised by the anger and agony that contemporary segregation inflicts on almost everyone. "School Colors" is daunting, and perhaps as clearly distilled an image of contemporary America as you could ask for." (Cited by the Boston Globe as one of the ten best television programs of the year.) THE BOSTON GLOBE

"Absorbing! Finds glimmers of light in the dark landscape of America's racial attitudes. This Emmy-worthy documentary makes clear that good public education is critical to making our society succeed in the future." THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

"This is a rewarding special edition of "Frontline", a fast-moving, exploratory and often troubling show which throws a light – sometimes a glaring one - on this bitterly contentious subject. That any light at all is shed by so massive and complex a production says something about its skill and vision. The filmmakers edited miles of footage into a cohesive and dramatic whole. The result is neither judgmental nor merely impressionistic. The larger canvas these impressive people paint for viewers is a school convulsed with problems, but also grappling with them." THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

"A 'frontline' report in the truest sense - a provocative, occasionally exasperating, enlightening and important program. "School Colors" gets high marks for going beyond the rhetoric to look at the reality that animates the questions. Watch it!" THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

"Superb! Edgy and uncompromising! "School Colors" is a spellbinding, non-judgmental documentary about coping in a multicultural society. It will keep you up at night thinking: How can we both honor our differences and celebrate our common humanity?" THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

"Insightful! Captures the anger and idealism of students and faculty. "School Colors" will ring bells - lots of bells." THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK TIMES Read review


Sound of the Soul

"The music you will see in this film is extraordinary, and its message of healing is extraordinary. There is no film that is screening in this film festival this year that means more to me, and I think that means more to the possible future of us living in this city, and on this planet." PETER SCARLETT, DIRECTOR; TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

"Sound of the Soul offers an insider's look at this annual celebration of spirituality and art. Performers range from a Christian brass band from New York and Fado singers from Portugal to a chorus of female Berber singers from Africa and medieval ensembles from France, all of whom embrace the philosophy of an Afghan performer who says, "music is the sound of the soul." THE NEW YORK TIMES

"The intersection between spirituality and world­music is pinpointed in "Sound of the Soul," a handsome documentary about the Fez Festival in Morocco. The event, which takes place annually in the North African city renowned for its history of tolerance, offers attendees a platform where they can tie together music and faith as a universal bond. The main attraction is the lineup of frequently astonishing acts glimpsed and (more importantly) heard. They range from ethereal Irish vocal group Anuna and mournful Portuguese singer Katia Guerreiro to choirs devoted to early Euro­Russo sacred music. Groups from outside the West are often intensely rhythmic and ecstatic, though most raucous is New York City brass band Sons of Thunder. There's great sonic variety among the Moroccan acts alone. Wide­format DV lensing and sound recording are first­rate." VARIETY, by Dennis Harvey

"There's a moment in "Sound of the Soul" when you stop looking at the subtitles. You don't need them when the Frasa Group from Morocco works itself into a frenzy of spiritual chanting, shifting forcibly from one note to the next in near unison. No matter your religion or lack thereof, it's no longer about the words or deities or beliefs, but rather the transcendent power of music. Director Stephen Olsson wisely trains his cameras on the musicians in action, often giving them three or four uninterrupted minutes to play…The film works best in the musicians' own words about why music truly is the universal language of mankind, as Henry Longfellow once wrote. Mauritanian singer Dimi Mint Abba says, "What I think about really depends on the song I am singing. I have conversations with God." Or Mohammed. Or Allah. Or Buddha. It's practically all the same to these musicians, and that's why their songs never get lost in translation." THE BOSTON GLOBE, By James Reed

"In Sound of the Soul Olsson has captured a piece of all that's good in the world." MOVIE MAGAZINE

"The extensive concert footage is so infectious that viewers will find it difficult to stay seated." YOGA JOURNAL

"The global rise of religious fundamentalism and its frightening effect on international politics can make mutual respect and dialogue between people of different cultures and faiths seem like an impossible dream. But as this thoughtful documentary shows, music is a language that is understood by every faith. A moving testament to the healing power of music, Sound of the Soul offers a microcosmic vision of what a culture of tolerance can achieve and gives hope that such an approach might spread to the world outside Fez." BELIEF.NET, By Alana B. Elias Kornfeld "This film is a well­needed reminder that religion and spirituality cannot be divorced from the human experience. And in the face of all the violence done in the name of religion, this movie makes us remember that even though the words are different, often times we are singing the same song." TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL, By Kellen Quinn

"A concert film, a travelogue, a history lesson, a mild-mannered homily, Olsson's work is a grand upper…pulling together Berber women, a fabulous Portuguese Fado singer, a French early­music ensemble, players and vocalists from Afghanistan, England, Russia, Ireland, Mauritania, Turkey and finally, a gospel band from New York City. Ecstatic Sufi performers dominate the concert, but the sound, the music, the "message" are all suffused with sincere expressions of love and longing, against a great heritage of tolerance, an ancient sanctuary for people of different faiths. Yes, it's about time again for a dose of this artless art, these legions of Candides, whistling in the dark about the best of all possible world ." SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, By Janos Gereben

"Stephen Olsson's film aspires to be much more than a record of Morocco's Festival of World Sacred MusiC. All of it is lovely and all of it is acoustic - everything we hear is truly a people's music rooted in daily lives of struggle. It's thus akin to America's lost folkloric music, as found in the hollows of Appalachia and on Southern backroads before transistor radios and American Idol homogenized everything…Sound of the Soul reaches and holds a high note." SF WEEKLY, By Greg Rickman

"Part travelogue, part primer on world religions, part concert film, Sound of the Soul delivers a powerful and timely message to a world increasingly seized in the paralyzing grip of self­destructing partisan (East and West) fundamentalist­fueled strife. Against awe­inspiring visuals, the sacred music traditions unfold." CULTUREVULTURE.NET, By Les Wright

"The movie bathes the viewer in a sumptuous symphony of color and texture, from the performers' gorgeous outfits to the images of the markets, shrines, and surrounding landscape. The musical excerpts are the icing on the cake." THE NEW MEXICAN, By David Prince

"Nothing here for rap fans, but if you appreciate the choral tradition then this film will be as edifying as it is a wonder to listen to. Most of the group performances are captured in outdoor venues or well­lit indoor spaces and sometimes the brilliant native costumes prove as visually persuasive as the music. In between numbers, director Stephen Olsson's camera explores the Holy City of Fez in Morocco with its 9th century Andalousian mosque, famed Al Karaouiyne University, and Medina market district filled with world­renowned singing craftsmen. Part ancient city excursion and sacred music showcase, this film has much to offer perceptive audiences." REEL REVIEWER.COM

"If you are a fan of world music, Stephen Olsson’s “Sound of the Soul” is a documentary not to be missed. Chronicling the ten-day long Festival of World Sacred Music held each year in Fez, Morocco, Olsson’s film provides a whirlwind tour of musical traditions from around the globe, with most focusing on spiritual or religious themes. Not only does “Sound of the Soul” provide a great introduction to this expansive genre, it also creates a window into the world of the musicians themselves, including both their personal and cultural influences. A favorite on the festival circuit when it debuted in 2005, “Sound of the Soul” is definitely worth tracking down if you are a fan of uplifting, spiritually-grounded music. And if you’re not, this could very well be the film that turns you into one." FILMTHREAT.COM


To Find the Baruya Story

"An excellent film which successfully combines a view of a prominent anthropologist at work with vivid accounts of the people whom he is studying. Rarely have I seen so much information packed into a single film. I recommend it highly." Dr. Roy Rappaport, University of Michigan

"After two decades of that hybrid document known as the 'Anthropological film' this new film transcends the old documentary versus art and anthropologist vs. filmmaker problems. This new and refreshing form has emerged from a network of people. This is, in my opinion, the first document which gives the viewer the opportunity to see his own film." Dr Paul Byers, Teacher's College, Columbia University

"To Find the Baruya Story is an effective generator of discussion, and a valuable classroom resource, providing students with vivid examples of the pleasures as well as some of the techniques and dilemmas of the anthropological enterprise. The filmmakers succeed in presenting a wealth of anthropological information in a format that engages the interest of both beginning and advanced students." Dr. Nina Swidler, Fordham University

"Beautifully filmed and edited! Such films of fieldwork are so unusual that when they come along it is not surprising to hear cheers from anthropologists confronted daily with the task of teaching about the discipline. TO FIND THE BARUYA STORY is truly a valuable work." Dr. Malcolm Arth, Curator of Education, American Museum of Natural History

"Few films show us the way an anthropologist works in the field, how he relates to the people he is studying, and what kinds of data he is seeking. This film does so beautifully." Timothy, Asch, USC

"An excellent anthropological film of a new variety. The filmmakers have avoided giving an over pedantic impression while keeping anthropological methodology in sharp focus." Dr. Gordon Gibson, The Smithsonian Institute

"This is a remarkable film and a great achievement! Of particular interest are the anthropologist's fieldwork methods and personal style in working with informants. At the same time the film presents a great deal of Baruya ethnography. Especially illuminating are the sequences on salt technology and trade, in addition to the striking sequences on Baruya acculturation. The commentary successfully integrates the visual material and makes this film an important pedagogical tool." Dr. Asen Balikci, London School of Economics


"This is a rare and special film. It should be an excellent vehicle for stimulating discussion in classes ranging from graduate seminars on field methods to introductions to cultural anthropology at the undergraduate level." Dr. Malcolm Arth, Curator of Education, American Museum of Natural History "An excellent film to watch which allows the student to watch the ethnographer develop his line of inquiry and sense his excitement when he comes upon unexpected information." Dr. Roy Rappaport, University of Michigan